Song of the Day: Chromatics – I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around

photo by Richard Bernardin

photo by Richard Bernardin

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today‚Äôs song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around” by Chromatics from their anticipated forthcoming album, Dear Tommy, on Italians Do It Better.

Chromatics – I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around (MP3)

No matter how you get introduced to the shimmering wonder of Italo-disco synth pop gods Chromatics, the effect is the same: you are completely haunted. Whether you found out about them way back in the day when they were still a Pacific Northwest band, pulling out disco-heavy underground wonders like “In The City“, or whether you fell in love with them when they soundtracked the opening scene to the film Drive with the incredible “Tick of the Clock“, there’s something about the mixture of frigid cold and bloodthirsty lust that makes Chromatics an unbeatable act. In 2012, they dropped Kill For Love, a massive 80 minute record that feels endless in its effect and boundless in its emotional undertaking. Producer and multi-instrumentalist Johnny Jewel brings a perfect mixture of mechanical and organic to mix John Carpenter soundtrack vibes with synth pop wonde. Guitarist Nat Walker takes the shimmer factor to dazzling heights. And vocalist Ruth Radalet could haunt your dreams for decades with her ghostly melancholy. Together, Chromatics have everything it takes to steal your heart forever.

In rolling out their new album, Dear Tommy, Chromatics first teased us with “Just Like You“, a slow burner ballad with barely enough of a pulse to keep a beat in your feet. Rather than dance, the single took aim at heartstrings and won the battle. But with the second single, “I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around” (the one provided to you today for your repeat pleasure), Chromatics are taking every facet of their sound to new heights. From moment one, the track is pure energy. Nat’s guitars are on fire, while Johnny pulls out all the stops for a drum track that feels like 20 people giving foundation to Ruth’s endless vocals. The song itself is fairly melancholy – Ruth details the pains of being around an ex-lover, feeling uncomfortable and reminiscing with no hope of the future. But the song’s endless sense of drive gives Ruth a noir air about her, not looking back at the mistakes of the past, driving on down the road through the rain and the tears, knowing it’s all for the best. Johnny doesn’t know how to write a song that lacks a cinematic landscape to it, but with “I Can Never Be Myself”, he outdoes himself. This single is one for the Chromatics vaults, and it’s a melancholy summer jam that we intend to use for soundtracking every night drive of the year.

There’s not release date announced yet for Dear Tommy, but there’s no doubt Johnny Jewel will be releasing more songs until it’s out. Keep checking the Chromatics Facebook page and the Italians Do It Better! website for updates. Also, check out Johnny Jewel’s soundtrack to Lost River, out now, in which Chromatics and the whole Italians Do It Better gang are featured heavily. Below, check out “In Films”, yet another newly released song from the forthcoming album:

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